WASHINGTON -- The much anticipated White House dog is Bo, a Portuguese water dog, who joins the Obama family on Tuesday.
As is normal in high-level Obama administration appointments, Bo had big clout behind him -- he's a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy -- but had to prove himself worthy through a vetting process that he could stand on his own four feet.
Bo's final vetting came during a visit to the White House for a little over an hour in mid-March, where he clicked. First daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, were promised a pup at the end of the campaign no matter the outcome.
As sometimes happens, Bo's selection comes with some controversy. Then President-elect Obama on Nov. 7 outlined two criteria for the First Dog in response to a question I asked during his first post-election press conference. Obama said the pooch had to be hypoallergenic because of Malia's allergies, and "our preference would be to get a shelter dog."
Though the 6-month-old Bo comes from a breed considered hypoallegenic, Bo is not from a shelter. Bo comes from the storied Kennedy clan. Bo's mother is Cappy, one of several dogs owned by dog lover Kennedy. And Bo is a repurposed pup. The White House will be Bo's second home, having lived with another family first.
Catherine McCormick-Lelyveld, a spokesman for the first lady, told the Chicago Sun-Times, "They were looking at shelters, but in the end the Kennedys learned of this litter mate of their dog who needed a home and they wanted to give the girls a gift -- and here we are!"
Lelyveld further explained, Bo "was previously owned but did not get along with the other dogs in its last house. The Kennedys learned of its availability and got it for the Obama girls."
There is a media backstory to Bo's arrival. Bo was going to be unveiled on Tuesday with the plan to give the scoop first to the Washington Post. Bo's rollout was foiled after the news leaked out from a little-known site, www.first dogcharlie.com and picked up by tmz.com. The Post recounted in its Sunday edition the puppy scoop came as a consolation prize because the New York Times got the exclusive about the planting of the White House garden.
Bo's appointment does not need Senate confirmation. Anyway, Bo will likely be discreet. He comes from a breed that sheds only a little.